Naretta, tell us a bit about yourself...
I am a 42 year old stay-at-home, married mum, and an amatuer photographer. I have two wonderful boys of my own, and I have had the privilege of also raising a, now adult, stepson. I do not have a career – in my earlier years I worked office jobs, but then I left to concentrate on being a mother and a wife. My youngest child is Autistic, needing a lot of my extra time and energy to help him through life. A life curve, but very much a blessing. 2 years ago, I unfortunately had an accident, this has left me disabled with restricted use of my right arm, and with limited choice of career options… for the meantime. I do see this as a blessing in sorts, as I am able to have the time to get out and about during school hours, spending time in nature, exploring and experiencing the fun of photography.
Apart from my passion for photography, I am interested in Reiki (healing with energy), crystal healing, and healing with plants and food. I am learning everyday the medicinal qualities of certain plants and am especially interested in (what some would call) “weeds” such as dandelions, chickweed plantain as well as common herbs and marvellous NZ plants such as Kawakawa. It is interesting to learn that almost every single plant, whether “weed”, tree, or flower, has some form of medicinal or healing property.
I love being out in nature, especially NZ native bush - I make a habit of regularly walking bush tracks that I am lucky to have nearby to my little town of Tokoroa. I feel I have a strong connection with Mother Nature. I love the trees and the birdlife - I find it very healing for me - body, mind and soul - and it’s when I feel this “connection” that I feel inspired to photograph what I see, and also to create a photographic memory of that beautiful moment/experience.
How did you start your photography journey?
I have always had a passion for photography, ever since I was a young girl, when my mum gave me her old film camera, and I saved up enough to buy my own (disposable) camera. I loved to photograph all sorts as a child - places, trees, plants, rocks, animals, beaches, the sky, friends and family - I always had great pleasure in this, and at times dreamed of one day perhaps being a photographer for National Geographic, or such. I really wanted to take photography at college level, but it was not a subject my parents’ could afford, so I was stuck with Drama and History!
As an adult, I managed to get my hands on a cheap little Fuji digital camera, and was like “wow, now I can zoom-in and play around with black and white, sepia, etc!” Later, along came Facebook, and smart phones! I brought a cheap Android smart phone, and then I was able to upload my favourite photos to Facebook to share with my friends! I would, on occasion, get comments such as “great photo”, “have you ever considered photography?” and “you have an eye for it”. This was so very uplifting, joyful, and encouraging that I was brave enough to share my photos publicly.
About six months ago, I purchased a new Android phone, still a little cheapie one, but with a greater pixel camera installed. I have been taking even more photos now, as I am loving the better quality - Now I can take photos that capture more accurately the beauty that I am seeing through my eyes, most importantly, truer colours! This gives me even greater confidence in sharing them publicly. Recently, I joined a NZ Photography page on Facebook and then I found the Excio community. With so many encouraging comments it has made me stop and think “maybe I have a real talent here?” and “perhaps I should be pursuing photography more seriously?”
What drives your inspiration?
As I mentioned above, nature is my inspiration. I just see so much beauty in Nature, especially NZ native bush, that I want to capture this as a picture to keep and share. I love the colours of nature, the serenity, the magic. I especially like trying to capture the moment the sunlight beams through the trees highlighting a particular plant or tree, and the shadow effects that it can create. Trees themselves are interesting characters too. Also, after the rain when everything looks so much more lush and green, glistening as it’s wet, or a plant/flower has captured raindrops, and then I love the contrast of colours that can appear in Nature. My second favourite thing to shoot is the NZ Coast, and the NZ landscape in general - I think we are truly blessed to live in such a beautiful and diverse country. Our skies can put on a great show too - a brilliant sunrise/sunset can embellish a normally somewhat average scene, and so too can a brilliant blue sky.
How do you apply the #PhotographyForGood concept in your work?
Personally, for me, it is a healing and almost meditative state. For others viewing my photos, I hope that it could possibly brighten their day, inspire them, or perhaps help them to gain awareness/knowledge of something they know nothing about, and of the beauty that surrounds us here in NZ.
Tell us about your photo on Excio “Kerosene Creek”.
Kerosene Creek was a new adventure for me. It was a place I had never visited before, although I had heard of it and seen photographs. It seemed absurd that I had never been, even though it was not too far away from home. I do love exploring new places, and when my eldest son came down to stay, I seized the opportunity to take both my boys for a nice hot dip in a naturally hot river. It turned out to be even more beautiful than expected, with waterfalls and old, heavily rooted trees. It was on our walk back up the track that I became frozen in my tracks, mesmerised by the rising steam of the river, the water cascading down the rocks and the contrast of colours - the green and browns of the ferns especially, popping against the white of the steam. It was a very surreal experience!
What are the main principles you follow in taking photographs?
Mainly, for the photo to be as true a representation of the subject as possible.
What equipment do you use?
No flash equipment for me! I use my bottom-of-the-range Alcatel 1s phone, which has a 13MP camera. The camera has a range of settings such as aperture, panorama, night shot and filter, although I have not used these settings as yet. The main setting I like to use is HDR.
Some of the photos I have uploaded to Excio are older, taken with my previous phone, a Samsung Galaxy CorePrime which only had a 8MP camera.
I have a photo editing App called Lumii which I like to use this to adjust the colour if the photo has come out too dark, or perhaps not quite the colour I saw with my naked eye. If a photo is a little blurry, then I adjust the sharpness. I do not use this App too often, I feel a lot prouder of my photo if it has come out perfect, unedited.
I must say I would love to see what I could do with a good camera and lens!